Life - Make up Your Mind
by Megha Bajaj
Argh, I just can't seem to make up my mind." Anyone one can relate to this statement - be it a teenager trying to make her mind up about her wardrobe, or someone trying to zero in on a career option. Indecisiveness is only natural when faced with a conflicting situation.
Experts say that success can never be achieved without timely and accurate decision-making. Constantly, we take decisions that ultimately determine life's direction. Interestingly, indecision leads to tremendous loss of time, energy, human resources and at times, even money. Let's understand where we go wrong while decision-making, whether we can improve and what are some of the more unconventional ways of making the right ones.
Why is it so difficult to decide upon one course of action compared to another? What thought process does one undergo when in a state of indecisiveness? Offering a plausible explanation, Jaya Row, the founder of Vedanta Vision, who has spent nearly 30 years in the study and research of Vedanta, says, 'The inner personality consists of two aspects - mind and intellect. The mind is the indecisive, irrational, emotional entity. The intellect is that which analyses the options, weighs the pros and cons and arrives at a decision. Most people have poorly developed intellects, while their likes and dislikes, loves and hates, are encouraged to alarming levels. Hence, when there is a need to take a decision based on the clear counsel of the intellect, the mind and its wishes interfere with the decision-making process and cause confusion." On the other hand, Rooshikumar Pandya, a pioneer in the fields of communication, stress management and therapeutic suggestions, says that indecision is born out of negative experience from the past, lack of confidence in self and fear of taking responsibility for one's own decisions. Clearly, for most of us, decision-making is not a smooth process.
Pros and Cons
So what is the solution? Uma Ranganathan, a writer and psychotherapist, helps people make decisions by adopting a conventional but extremely effective method. She says, "First you formulate the problem or the particular decision you need to take. Then, in one column you write down what can go wrong or what you have to lose by taking a certain step. In the other column, you put down what you have to gain. As a first step this is a good way to clear up one's thoughts. Also writing your thoughts reduces the tendency to keep going round in circles."
Reeta Bajaj, a 22-year-old journalist, shares, "I adopt the pros and cons method - and it really works. Seeing them so clearly on paper makes my decision clear to me. I was confused between journalism and pursuing an MBA. I followed the technique and realised that for my temperament, likes and dislikes, journalism was a better option. Now, I am working with a leading newspaper and I have tremendous job satisfaction."
Pandya feels that one should take small decisions weighing pros and cons and then graduate to bigger ones, after gaining confidence. Also, increasing knowledge pertaining to a decision would help. For example, if one were confused between two careers, speaking to many people in both would benefit or even by doing a one-month internship in each.
Row believes that in order to make better decisions, one needs to develop a better intellect by exercising it, "Think, question and inquire. Vedanta provides the knowledge that helps strengthen the intellect." For her, the answer lies in Vedanta. But it could be any religious or spiritual path that appeals to your value system. The important thing is to constantly eliminate the conditioning that generates emotional reactions while simultaneously strengthening the intellect.
A spiritual approach to decision-making is to allow yourself to be guided by your inner voice or through signs from the universe. Mary Carroll Moore, author of How to Master Change in your Life, illustrates this with an example from her life. She recalls how an excruciating pain in her right arm led her to question whether she should leave her interesting job in a publishing house. However, when she shared her thoughts with her husband, he said something that changed her life forever. He said, "It does mean you're ready to change something. But what if life is telling you to change yourself, rather than the job?"
Confused, she decided to calm down from within and see if the universe would send her signs on what she was meant to change in herself. The very next day, a friend commented that it was good her arm had slowed her down as she could not keep up with her pace! The next morning, another friend made a similar comment and finally her acupuncturist asked her, "Have you been pushing too hard?" She had got her answer: she was to slow down. And how she was to slow down came to her in a dream, consisting of three phrases, 'Pay attention to details', 'Enjoy the process, rather than the result' and 'When pushed or tensed, breathe deeply'. When she practiced these suggestions, she found herself automatically slowing down.
She also suggests a very effective exercise for decision-making which she calls the Turning Point exercise. She advises that one should take a clean sheet of paper and write the word or phrase that describes the situation for indecision. After this, one needs to begin free association - writing new words or phrases around the key word and drawing strings from the center to link the added words. Write everything that comes to mind, don't hold back and you will find that several fears, doubts, simmering questions - all find their way on the sheet and you can clearly understand what is holding you back from taking a decision. When the cause of indecision is pinpointed and plans are made to overcome it, decision-making becomes simple.
Intuition, too, is an invaluable decision-making tool. An incident during the day of the recent Mumbai blast illustrates its infallible wisdom. An uncle shared that he was travelling by train in the first class. The train halted for about two minutes. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a thought struck him. If he were to go to the compartment closer to the engine, he would be closer to the platform gate. Quickly, he changed his compartment. After five minutes, a bomb exploded in his previous compartment, strewing corpses and body parts. He believes it was his intuition that saved his life.
Row defines intuition as nothing but past intellectual decisions and thinking that flash back instantly. She affirms that this happens when there is a confluence of purity of heart, lack of selfish motive and dedication to a higher ideal based on the dictates of the conscience.
As for me, I use a potpourri of techniques. There are times when writing down pros and cons have helped me tremendously; at other times I have flowed with the stream of life and allowed decisions to be made for me. Either way, what made it work was my commitment to make the decision 'right' for me. I followed it with my heart and soul and didn't allow a shadow of doubt to fall on it. I realise, it's not enough to just make a decision - what's important is to make that decision right for your life at the given point of time.
Subject: Decision making in life - 27 December 2008
I think any decision taken after due consideration may also prove wrong. Life is not a one way process.Sometimes personal decisions like in husband-wife relationship affect the other person who may not see any reason in my decion or may be stubborn. How will one tackle these situations? More...
by: Santanu Ghosh
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